From Generation to Generation

9 years 4 months 4 weeks ago Monday, March 14 2011 Mar 14, 2011 Monday, March 14, 2011 3:03:00 PM CDT March 14, 2011 in Coverage From Callaway
By: Megan Murphy

FULTON - The old Fulton theater, it was once a staple of Callaway County nightlife. In recent years, not so much, but that could soon change.

His grandfather built it....

"It was built back in 1927 by my grandfather Walter E. Glenn."

His parents owned and ran it...

"When my grandfather died, obviously my father inherited it."

And Phil Glenn grew up in it.

"My first job was a ticket taker."

When the theater was first built, patrons could go see live performances. In the 50's, Glenn's parents renovated the theater... Turning it into a movie house.

"The movies were the in thing," remembered Glenn. "This is where I worked when I was young. There were two projectors."

Aside from providing the city with entertainment, Glenn's mom provided movie-goers with a little discipline.

"My mother was very big on not letting people depart the theater before the credits had all run through. It was one of the most embarrassing things that I had to do," Glenn said. "She would station myself and my sister at these exits and we had flashlights. If anybody tried to leave, we'd shine them and say sit down."

The Glenn's were not only disciplined in their management of the theater, but also progressive.

"Before the civil rights movement, my parents," stated Glenn, "they allowed black people to sit anywhere in the theater."

The current owners, the Callaway Arts Council, wants to return the theater to its original vaudeville glory.

"There are many things that need to be redone," said Tom Clapp, President of the Callaway Arts Council. "It needs to be needs to be replumbed."

"We added another screen so they closed off the balcony to put a separate theater up here. When the original theater, there was a balcony looking down into the main part of the auditorium," Glenn said.

"(You're gonna open all that up?) We will take this all out. That's the next set of demolition stuff we have to do is take out this wall," explained Clapp.

The goal is to give families something different to do together.

"I want to get people away from the television," said Clapp. "I am so sick to death of people coming home, that's their recreation, sitting in front of the television watching reality tv intend of seeing reality."

Through the mid-1900's, the old Fulton theater was considered home by many...and the Callaway Arts Council wants it to be that way again.

Clapp said, "My hope is to have three to four nights a week where there's some kind of performance going on in this theater."

And for the man for whom the theater really was home, he's glad someone cares enough to keep it around.

"The building is structurally sound, and to just let it go to waste, fall down and have to destroy it... It's a piece of heritage that would be lost forever. I hate to see it in this state of disrepair, but the future...the future is bright," Glenn said.

"There are reasons to come to Callaway County but we need some entertainment," Clapp said, "we certainly can provide that."

Clapp said the Callaway Arts Council will get some money from the dream initiative to renovate the theater, but donations are welcome too.


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